VanBeek leads Cardinals to ninth sweep of season over Toledo
Ball State Women's Volleyball (13-5, 4-1 MAC) nabbed its ninth sweep of the season with a victory over Toledo (7-9, 2-3 MAC). A team hitting percentage of .374 and a strong back row performance kept the Cardinal momentum high and the Rockets couldn’t keep up.
Though the score early in set one went back-an-forth, the Cardinals turned up the heat with a collective .381 hitting percentage and four major blocks across the board. Junior Kate Avila and Anna Jensen dominated the backcourt with 14 digs combined, and the team held the Rockets to a .179 hitting percentage, leading the Cardinals to a 25-17 set one victory.
“We definitely wanted to continue the momentum we had last weekend,” head coach Kelli Miller said. “When you’re at home, you want to take advantage of the opportunity and we knew we had that high energy from the get-go.”
Junior Sydnee VanBeek was the dominating force throughout the match. Thirteen matches into the season, the middle hitter has nearly tied her total number of kills from last year and she is showing no sign of slowing down.
“I watched film before and knew what to expect from their blockers,” VanBeek said. “Paying attention and being aware goes a long way and it really helps in terms of getting good shots .”
The Cardinals did not hold back entering set two, grabbing an early lead of 5-1 with a huge block by VanBeek and senior Ellie Dunn. The Rocket frontline was led by junior Zoe Birnbrich who had a three-point stretch with a kill down the middle immediately followed by two back-to-back solo blocks, but the Rockets failed to rebound from the deficit. VanBeek took charge and drilled five kills and maintained a percentage of .625 between the first two sets to give the Cardinals another set win, 25-18.
This season, VanBeek is the second-leading blocker on the team, tallying 10 solo blocks and 45 assists on the season. Along with her strengths at the net, VanBeek has contributed 52 digs after tonight’s match.
“Everything starts with passing, and that was a strength in tonight’s match,” VanBeek said. “Our passes were laying it in and Amber was finding the right hitter at the right time, so it really was a team effort.”
Dunn gave the Cardinals their edge to start the third set, grabbing four kills early, while sophomores Emma Swope and Chloee Kleespies kept the Rockets in the match. Birnbrich gave the Rockets their first lead of the set at 14-13. The teams tossed the lead back-and-forth, but ultimately, the Rockets could not stop the Cardinal offense, who would win the third set 25-19 to clinch the match victory.
“The key for the next match is to realize that the three matches prior to this have nothing to do with what’s going to happen at Buffalo,” Miller said. “We have to prepare the same, learn from the good and build off of those things, but understand that the three wins aren’t automatically going to give us a fourth.”
VanBeek led the team in hitting percentage with .611, while Dunn led in kills with fifteen. Jensen and Avila finished with a combined total of 36 digs, while junior Amber Seaman added 43 assists.
The Cardinals travel to Buffalo to face the Bulls at 6 PM on Saturday.